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New ambulance arrives in Kenmare...

Mark Rethwisch isn’t a name most people in Kenmare know. But for those who do, he delivered a new ambulance unit last week to the local squad.

1/22/19 (Tue)

Mark Rethwisch isn’t a name most people in Kenmare know. But for those who do, he delivered a new ambulance unit last week to the local squad.

Rethwisch is the head salesman for a Fergus Falls, Minn., company called Premier Specialty Vehicles that sells ambulance units in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. He brought it to Kenmare from Columbus, Ohio where it was built.

Premier has also recently sold ambulance units to Divide County, Williston, Glen Ullin, Jamestown and Detroit Lakes, Minn.

The ambulance housing is a Horton’s model 553 type 3 that is mounted on an E-450 Ford chassis, according to Rethwisch.

He said it’s an all-aluminum constructed model which makes it lighter that translates to better fuel economy.

The 2018, $220,000 unit is loaded with features that include the newest safety feature in an ambulance; 4-point seat belts.

“It has a multiplex electrical touch screen with dual screens,” he said. “There’s plenty of oxygen storage for O2 to keep it secure and safe.”

The model 553 is built with child safety in mind and it has internal LED lights, making the electrical system more efficient.

“This thing has been roll tested and crash tested,” Rethwisch said. “You should check out the Horton rollover video. We took the biggest unit possible and rolled it. The airbags deployed and it bounced around for a while and landed on its wheels. We were featured on Good Morning America.”

The video may be found at (

In addition to all the other features, it has noise dampening and ride quality body mounts, according to Rethwisch.

“That makes it a quieter truck and free riding,” he said. “The truck chassis and the body move differently.”

The ambulance squad received $35,000 for the existing model that had built up 60,000 miles.

Emily Christensen of the Kenmare Ambulance Squad, said 60,000 isn’t really a lot of miles, but it had been deployed to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests and was running almost constantly because of the winter cold.

In addition, Christensen said the old ambulance had numerous wiring problems and it would have been quite expensive to make those repairs.

On Monday night (Jan. 14), nearly the entire crew turned out at the Kenmare Fire Hall to transfer all the equipment from the old ambulance to the new.

Rethwisch was on hand to answer any questions anyone may have had as they worked on the old and the new units.

“We were going through all the equipment and getting it up to date,” Christensen said. “It was a big job. There’s a lot of stuff in an ambulance and some was expired. It’s now all up to date.”

Trevor Melin was checking out the interior, Breanna Matejovsky was taking inventory, Laura Mibeck and Donna Schmit were looking at expiration dates, Arlen Gartner was moving items from one ambulance to the other, Jerry Essler and Nate Condit were under the hood, Myles Mibeck was moving gurneys and straps while others unidentified were wrenching on the old unit, getting everything out that carries value.

Christensen was giving direction as she examined bandages, first-aid kits and meters. It was an impressive display of team work in a confined space.

According to Christensen, everyone knew how much work was involved and as they arrived, they went right to work.

By late Thursday afternoon, the new ambulance still hadn’t been used, which Christensen said was a good thing. But rest assured, it was ready to go and so was the crew.

She said there is no way the new ambulance could have been purchased without the generosity of several donors and some grants to offset the price tag, adding the squad is always looking for folks to help out a worthy cause.

Donors include Souris Basin Planning Council, Burke-Divide Electric, Town & Country Credit Union, Recon Oil Services and RTC.

“You know a small town is,” Christensen said. “Everybody likes to chip in, but I want to make sure they all get the recognition they deserve.”  

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